Can you prepare for the unexpected?

Over the last few months there have been a number of high profile incidents involving HGVs that have had fatal and catastrophic outcomes. Therefore, lorry drivers are urged to be vigilant at all times and be prepared for the unexpected; as you never know what is going to happen next!

The Glasgow bin lorry incident before Christmas, the Bath tipper truck incident on 9th February 2015 and the 40 vehicle pile-up on the M40 on 14th February 2015, are stark reminders to everyone within the industry of the catastrophic consequences of running a fleet of vehicles, when something goes wrong.

Andrew Drewary CMILT, Consultant Accident Analyst, working on behalf of 3Sixty Fleet says; ‘The 3 re-cent high profile incidents involving HGVs have received considerable expo-sure in the press and have brought additional scrutiny on the industry. Although these incidents remain under investigation by the various authorities, they should make everyone within the industry take extra care before their vehicles go out on the road.’

It’s all too easy to fall into a familiar routine because you or your company have not been involved in any major incidents. You feel safe and the thought; ‘it won’t happen to me’ starts to creep into everyone’s mind. This can lead to complacency within your team and needs to be reviewed before it is too late.

So where do you start? The obvious place is at the very beginning by reviewing your fleet risk management policy. Constant reviews of risk assessments, processes and procedures as well as driver/employee re-fresher training are imperative. This may seem straightforward, however, these issues are mundane, with many drivers and employees only receiving this training and information at the start of their employment.

Drewary says: ‘Most incidents and accidents are a result of human error. By reviewing your fleet risk management policy on a regular basis you will remain aware of the issues that can have dramatic consequences on your employees, your business and the general public. This should not just be a management led initiative. All drivers and employees should have the confidence to raise issues and speak up if they have concerns that need addressing.’

There are areas that are outside your control such as the actions of other roads users and the weather. Unfortunately, you can never legislate for the way other road users drive their vehicle and this has always been a major concern for lorry drivers and the industry.

Although you cannot control the weather you can control your actions during times of bad weather. You can keep up to date with the weather conditions through various information sources and your transport manager should monitor the weather conditions. If necessary your transport manager can advise you accordingly of any changes to your daily route or if necessary, pull you off the road altogether if the weather gets too bad.

Drewary continues: ‘Unfortunately, there is no way to prepare for the unexpected due to the forces beyond your control. However, you need to stay in control and take all steps possible to reduce the effects of human error. This is your corporate responsibility and failure to take the relevant measures, regardless of how mundane they are and the associated cost implications, could have catastrophic consequences and could be devastating for all involved.’

Be as prepared as you can for the unexpected. Take positive steps to implement a robust fleet risk management policy that is continuously re-viewed. Do not leave it until you have to react to an incident as this will be too late for all involved.